As Crikey hit deadline the Prime Minister was at the podium of the National Press Club to deliver a speech designed to set the course for the government through until the election due later this year.
Like all politicians these days, the Prime Minister is keen to talk about how tough voters are doing it. For once, though, she has offered a more nuanced perspective on the issue, reflecting on flat house prices, lower superannuation returns, a high savings rate, increasing commuting times and the contrast with the pre-GFC era of constantly rising consumption. She’s also reflected on how governments are doing it tough because revenue keeps missing forecasts, and how business may simply have to get used to a high dollar that refuses to succumb to the gravity exerted by declining terms of trade and an inevitable decline in mining investment.
While lacking substantial detail, particularly about the structural savings to the budget that are needed to pay for education reform, disability insurance and other promises, it’s a more honest policy speech than we’re used to getting from national leaders — light on boasting and with an emphasis on meeting actual challenges of a tight fiscal environment and a stubbornly high dollar.
And, a true shock: the announcement of an election date. We will go to the polls on September 14, the PM announced. That’s a real game-changer.